Celebrating the two-way Coug-Canada pipeline

IF YOU LOOKED at the fine print on the calendar this week you might have noticed that the United States isn't the only nation celebrating a birthday. Up north, Canada Day commemorates the coming together of colonies and provinces under one red maple leaf. For us, it's a reminder of the great Cougar-Canada football pipeline that has flowed both directions for the better part of seven decades.

As long-time Cougar watchers know, the recruiting hunting grounds for WSU north of the border have produced such notables as Rueben Mayes, Rob Meier, Brian Forde, Hank Grenda, Don Sweet, Glenn Harper and Adam Braidwood.

And the talent goes the other direction too. Dozens of Cougs have gone on to fine pro careers in the Canadian Football League. That list includes current CFL star Tyron Brackenridge; four guys who are now enshrined in the CFL Hall of Fame -- George Reed (pictured above far right), By Bailey (left of Reed), Brian Kelly (far left) and Hugh Campbell (right of Kelly); and all-stars such as Singor Mobley, Mike Walker, Gerry Shaw, Garner Ekstran Ted Gerela, Bryan Chiu, Sweet and Harper.

Here's a quick run down on WSU's four CFL Hall of Famers ...

GEORGE REED, Running back, Saskatchewan Roughriders(1963-75)

The most prolific ground gainer he pro football history, CFL or NFL, the Renton native racked up 16,116 yards in his star-studded 13-year career with Saskatchewan and is considered the league's greatest-ever running back. He scored a CFL record 137 touchdowns and was named all-CFL nine times and all-Western Conference ten times. He rushed for 1,000 yards or more in 11 seasons and in 1965 was named the league's MVP. He led Saskatchewan to four Grey Cup appearances and the 1966 championship. He retired in 1975. Also well known in Canada for his community involvement. He starred at Washington State under passing guru Jim Sutherland for three seasons --- 1959, 1961 and 1962 --- and sat out the '60 campaign with a broken leg.

BY BAILEY,Back, British Columbia Lions (1954-64)

A Cougar mainstay from 1949-51, he spent three seasons in the NFL with Detroit and Green Bay before joining the B.C. Lions for their inaugural campaign in 1954. The West Seattle High grad scored B.C.'s first-ever TD and starred for eight seasons at fullback and three more at defensive back. In 2006 he was named one of the 50 greatest players in CFL history.

HUGH CAMPBELL, Receiver/Coach/GM/CEO (1962-2006)

After a record-breaking career at WSU from 1960-62, the "Phantom of the Palouse" was cut by the San Francisco 49ers so turned his attention north. The move proved fortuitous. Campbell was a CFL fixture for more than three decades as a player, coach, general manager, president and CEO. He spent six seasons at wide receiver with Saskatchewan, earning all-CFL recognition and posting three straight years of at least 60 catches and 1,000 yards. He scored 17 TDs in the team's championship season of 1966. He became head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos in 1977 and led the club to a record six Grey Cup appearances and five consecutive championships. His regular season coaching record of 70-21-5 is the best winning percentage in league history (.773).

BRIAN KELLY, Receiver, Edmonton Eskimos (1978-1986)

The 5-foot-9 wide receiver teamed with Jack Thompson and Mike Levenseller in the late 1970s to make WSU's passing attack one of the most feared in the nation. His 116 catches from 1975-77 ranked him in the WSU career top 10. He went on to spend nine seasons in the CFL with Hugh Campbell's Edmonton Eskimos. Earned CFL rookie of the year honors in 1978 and was a perennial all-CFL pick. Caught 575 passes for a CFL record 11,169 yards and 97 career touchdowns --- second only to George Reed's 137 career TDs. The Eskimos won six Grey Cup titles during his career, including his first and last seasons.

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